While it didn't go well for Japanese legend Hayato Sakurai at DREAM 14, the Japanese left smiling after watching Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto get back on the horse. Once regarded as the top bantamweight in the world, Yamamoto has struggled a bit in returning from a torn knee. He lacked explosiveness and was pretty easy to hit in close losses against Joe Warren and Masanori Kanehara. DREAM promoters decided it was time to feed Kid someone a little easier and he took care of business in thunderous fashion. Yamamato landed a beautiful counter right hook on chin of the overmatched Kiko Lopez to finish things at 1:41 of the first round at DREAM 14 in the Saitama Super Arena.
The fight, originally scheduled for Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery two weeks ago in St. Louis, was pushed back to this morning's card in Japan. Hopefully this means Americans will get to the see the legendary power puncher in the States some time later this year.
Things weren't so rosy for another fighting veteran in Japan. Joachim Hansen, who had been widely regarded as a top seven fighter at 145 pounds over the last few years, looked awful against Hiroyuki Takaya. Hansen dropped down to 139 for the fight and looked emaciated. He couldn't let his hands go and when he got blasted by Takaya, he couldn't take a punch. A short right from an awkward stance that didn't look to have much power behind it, rocked Hansen. With his hands down, he took another huge right hook that locked his body up (pictured above). Once he hit the deck, Takaya delivered some vicious blows and the fight was stopped at 4:32 of the first round.
Takaya, a natural featherweight, coming off of two straight losses was only 12-8 entering the fight. He fought for WEC in the United States back in 2008 losing to both Cub Swanson and Leonard Garcia. Hansen (19-10-1) has now lost three straight fights and appears to be at a career crossroad.
DREAM 14 results (Courtesy MMAJunkie):
Nick Diaz def. Hayato "Mach" Sakurai via submission (armbar) - Round 1
Ralek Gracie def. Kazushi Sakuraba via unanimous decision
Hiroyuki Takaya def. Joachim Hansen via knockout (punches) - Round 1
"Kid" Yamamoto def. Federico "Kiko" Lopez via knockout (punches) - Round 1, 1:41
Akiyo Nishiura def. Hideo Tokoro via TKO (punches) - Round 1, 2:51
Kazuyuki Miyata def. Takafumi Otsuka via split decision
Kenji Osawa def. Yoshiro Maeda via split decision
Ikuhisa Minowa def. Imani Lee via submission (rear-naked choke) - Round 1, 4:15